In my last blog post I talked about the phenomenon of CSR light companies and what their traits are. I also mentioned some examples of enterprises which perform in such a way.
Unfortunately, I recognized that I offered a quite pessimistic view about the performance of CSR activities. Indeed, there are lots of firms which use CSR projects and marketing campaigns to improve their image.
However, professionals already developed another, more optimistic opinion about Corporate Social Responsibility.
“Deep CSR companies do exist” says Karsten Kilian, brand consultant of markenlexikon.com.
But what is the difference between deep CSR and CSR light companies?
Don´t they all have actually the same goal (a more sustainable and an ethical right (working) environment)?
Which companies are CSR deep?
Fastexposure has the answers!
How are CSR heavyweights characterized?
Unfortunately, there is no clear definition about what deep CSR actually is. It is more about some common character traits of companies practicing such actions.
Karsten Kilian summarizes such traits like this:
“Examples of real CSR (companies) have in common that they treat their employees, environment and the society as a whole, they reduce their cost and can offer added value to their customers.”
That means that companies adopt business models with the goal to improve social and environmental conditions.
They realized the danger of the low-quality benefits of CSR light companies and try to do business according to “real trade-offs” like
- Sustainable consumption
- Resource extraction
- Just transitions
- Intergenerational equity
All in all, the so called “CSR heavyweights” are embodied by enterprises which understand and practice Corporate Social Responsibility with success.
But which companies are known to be CSR deep?
Deep CSR Role Models
A good example for a CSR heavyweight is “dm”, a German drug store, which focuses on the improvement of workplace conditions of its employees and human rights. This philosophy was established by Götz Werner, founder and CEO of the drugstore chain since 2003, and contains the following concept:
- dm focuses on the needs and well-being of its workers
- employees are asked to work on their own responsibility
- the company supports the worker´s self-development
- open-minded for new innovations
- personnel are treated as an enrichment for the company rather than its cost
- “learning organization”
Götz Werner supports this concept:
“If there were no human beings, economy would not exist. Therefore, the economy exist because of people and not vice versa.”
Therefore, dm´s business philosophy suits its advertising slogan “Hier bin ich Mensch, hier kauf ich ein” (“I´m a human being here, thus I buy here. “) very well. The customer recognizes the appropriate exposure of the workers and with himself. Thus he feels comfortable about shopping at dm which increases the firm´s profit.
As you see, practicing real CSR and earning money is not a contradiction!
Another successful deep CSR company is Hipp, the German manufacturer of baby food. This is because the production of mash & Co. is based on organic farming; even since 1956! Therefore, Hipp is a deep CSR company because it pays attention to an environmental friendly production. Like “Frosta”, one of the leading market forces in the German frozen food branch, Hipp avoids preservatives and uses only natural ingredients as well.
In this advertisement, Claus Hipp, CEO and founder of the company, emphasizes the company´s philosophy about being sustainable:
Even technology ventures can do business sustainable and in accordance with CSR, for example “ebmpapst”. This company offers for example ec-fans which reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by 30% and operation expenses even by 41%. Thus, ebmpapst realizes its desire to combine entrepreneurial responsibility and success because the enterprise´s revenue was approximately 1.311 billion dollars in 2010/11.
As you see, there still are companies practicing real CSR activities and avoid CSR light ones. Those enterprises should be the role model for companies which are not known as being CSR deep.
CSR light companies embody a social “danger” which is described by Anders Abrahamsson, “sustainopreneur” and qualitative intentional networker, very appositely:
“You need to move from PR talk to PT walk – from “Public Relations” words to actions that generates Public Trust. Your premier stakeholders – employees, customers and the third party “society” – own your brand and reputation anyways. You better live your words; otherwise you will not live to even have a word.